This cogently argued 'call to arms' for a radical reappraisal of the way we raise our children should be required reading for policy makers and new parents alike. Rebecca Asher's thesis is that attitudes towards child rearing, after a brief blip of progress in the 1970s, have actually retreated, leaving women's prospects in work and relationships at an all-time nadir.
Her study is a readable mix of anecdotes and statistics that is impressively far-reaching. In additon to the well-trodden discourse over employment rights and equal paternity and maternity leave, she tackles everything from the role of website Mumsnet to the lack of facilities for fathers on maternity wards. She also examines childcare practices in other countries, taking in the expected egalitarian Nordic models, but unexpected quarters too, such as the US. This is the academic counterpart to the roller coaster of emotional experience that forms the basis for books such as Rachel Cusks's 'A life's Work,' and read together any sane person would probably run a millon miles from the prospect of having children. But Asher presents plausible solutions too, arguing that even in the current economic climate equality between the sexes isn't something to aspire to in the distant future, but crucial to delivering a stable, healty economy now.